is giving new meaning to the term "bootstrapping," the age-old
(virtuous) idea of picking oneself up off the floor after some blow or
reversal of fortune has laid you low. The new method might be called "skyhooking" in which a massive rescue apparatus
secured at some mysterious point unseen in the clouds lifts whole exhausted
nations from their knees in order get them to summer vacation. Hence: the
interesting spectacle of an entire continent headed for vacation despite
facing utter financial ruin, revolution, and civil war.
one who has been to Europe in our time can doubt that it is a lovely place to
stage human existence. The towns and cities are in immaculate condition, even
the ones bombed to gravel in the receding unpleasantness of the 1940s. The
trains, trams, and subways run cleanly and on-time. The citizens, though
well-fed, maintain normal physiognomies and wear dignified adult costumes out
in public. Everything along the streets broadcasts the notion, central to
civilization, that grace and beauty matter -- even the handwriting on the
bistro chalkboards. What a wonderful place. I'd like to go back. But events
suggest that this sweet period of history is drawing to a close and whatever
happens there next will be less like Midnight in Paris and more like Riot
in Cellblock D meets Quest for Fire.
skyhooking procedure has been both fun and
sickening to watch, like any great public stunt of seemingly impossible
derring-do. Here you have a whole bundle of nations, all up to their chins in
the quicksand of debt, pretending to catch lifelines of new credit dropped
mysteriously from the clouds by hidden central bank airships, only to find
that the lifelines are a kind of collective hallucination coming over them
like a fever dream in their hour of desperation. Seems rather cruel,
actually. Especially since they have lately sunk deeper in the quicksand from
their chins to their eyeballs.
one on the scene -- or watching from a remove for that matter -- can conceive
a happy ending to this chapter of history, which might be remembered on some
distant clear-skied day yet to come as the age of government-by-check-kiting.
Or the Chinese fire drill banking model -- no offense to that great nation of
diligent workpersons. Yet, reports from even the
most anguished Euro nation du jour (Spain) say that the restaurants are
bustling and there is no shortage of nearly naked nubile beauties along the
beaches of the Costa Brava. And over in Italy, of course, a squirrel could
make the journey from Monterotondo to Lago Maggiore by leaping from one outdoor luncheon table
to the next with its knobby little knuckles never touching the ground.
question is: what happens when the recognition finally hits that the money
just isn't there? That the whole circus of alphabet soup bailouts and skyhook
rescue operations was a fraud? Well, my guess is that things fracture and
splinter and there commences a great scramble for the table scraps of the
incredible banquet that this congeries of nations put on its Master Charge card.
And when the table scraps are all gone, the members of some nations, or
regions within nations, set out pillaging around the place where their
neighbor sat at the banquet, and pretty soon you get such a disorderly scene
in the lovely old banquet hall of Europe that even diligent Chinese tourists
will not venture there for a while.
of this is to say that the action I describe is not following similar lines
in other corners of our sore beset planet. For instance, those diligent
Chinese I aver to have been running a set of banking rackets at least as
shoddy, careless, and plumb crazy as the Eurolanders.
And don't get me started on the Anglo-American clusterfuck,
which has left the rest-of-the-west with a future as ingeniously
booby-trapped as the Aurora cineplex shooter's
apartment (and to a strikingly similar note of destructive insanity).
in these dog days of summer (and the horse latitudes of the spirit), isn't it
easier to just mix another vodka and tonic, kick off your flip-flops, and
enjoy the feeling of cool sand between your toes? Rest up all y'all. Events
will be pinging around the reality-scape good and hard in a few weeks. Me:
well, I'm just keeping the fruit trees watered out back for now.
Enjoy your vacation.
Kayakers on the Battenkill,